Disability refers to the condition of being physically or mentally disabled or challenged. Some are blind, dumb and deaf. Others are crippled or mentally abnormal. The physically disabled are those physically handicapped such as the crippled, the blind, the mute as well those having some form of physical deformities. Most often, they are dependent on other people. Those mentally disabled suffer from mental retardation such as cerebral palsy and down syndrome among others. They look upon themselves as the burden of their families and an inferiority complex dogs them as long as they live.
“Disability need not be an obstacle to success,” Stephen Hawking wrote in the first-ever world disability report back in 2011. There are thousands of disabled people in Asia and many face discrimination on a regular basis which takes many forms. Very few employers hire disabled people as the latter is considered more a liability than an asset in the organization. However, these fears are completely unfounded. People with physical disabilities are not neglected class of people. Many blind and hearing impaired persons have contributed tremendously to organizations they are attached to. In fact, there are many cases of how disabled personalities have done themselves proud by being their own bosses. Their success stories include those on how to run their own business such as shops, restaurants, handicraft centers in addition to those who have become teachers and professionals through sheer hard work and determination. Many have even become successful sportspersons participating in Paralympics Games and winning medals. It has been proved that physical disability cannot stand in the way of one’s flowering into a celebrity.
The government should introduce steps to ensure all disabled people have access to education and employment. The Government provides the physically disabled students with stipends for education. In fact, special legislation and laws ought to be introduced that make it compulsory for employers to allocate a certain number of jobs for the disabled. The Welfare department too should provide financial assistance and medical access to disabled persons who come from poor backgrounds.
Ongoing campaigns to educated society on the need to accept and live in harmony with the disabled, rather than treat them as burdens or pariahs, need to be launched. In fact, the awareness should start from a young age. Instead of setting up special schools for the disabled, the government should institute regulations that abolish such schools and the disabled children sent to regular schools. In this regard, the discrimination of people with disabilities persists because the power of prejudices and biases is very strong.
In addition, most of our public infrastructure, public transport, and government buildings are not disabled-friendly. There has to be a concerted effort to ensure the disabled have access to these places and not feel hampered in any way.
Thus, it is high time that we accept the disabled as an important component of our society. Despite their handicap, they play an important role in our lives and at the same time, they need our respect, acceptance, and understanding.